Georgetown University: Administration Investigating Professor for Quoting Racial Slur From Landmark Supreme Court Case

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Georgetown University

In an April 15, 2021, class, American government professor Michelle Swers read from the  landmark Supreme Court case on incitement, Brandenburg v. Ohio, reciting the Klansman’s speech at issue: “Personally, I believe the nigger should be returned to Africa and the Jew returned to Israel.” Students sent a letter to Swers demanding an apology, a review of lecture materials for “potential bias,” and a “demonstrated understanding of the history of the N-word and why it is inappropriate for a non-Black person to say.” Although Swers apologized and removed the word from future lesson plans, a student submitted a complaint to the university. Georgetown told the student newspaper that it would investigate the matter. On May 4, FIRE called on Georgetown to end its investigation of Swers and to expressly disclaim any intent to punish her over her protected expression. The same day, Swers’ department chair told FIRE that he had not been made aware of an investigation. As of June 11, Georgetown’s administration has not substantively responded to FIRE’s letter.